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One of the easiest traps to fall into with horses is just getting by them rather then helping them when needed.  This is especially true with our heel horses.  Its so easy to just pull their head out of the way and heel. Now, sometimes you have to do this in order to win and I’m all for it, but a good portion of the time we need to work to help our horse stay in their frame and do their job fully. This helps them to where they can duplicate their run and not get in a bind for the long term.

The Problem

The problem is, most of us ride nice horses and they sure do make roping two feel easy.  The nicer the horse, the more they will cover for us and let us get away with things, but just like a nice car, if there isnt maintenance, we will run into trouble.  We as heelers have tendency to go heel 10, then get after our horses harshly when they start shorting us or dropping their front end on the 11th steer.  Then we spend the rest of the practice trying to fix this or if we are at roping, we are likely headed home.  We have to find an easier way here so we aren’t always fighting in the second half of the practice.

Helping When Needed

Part of this starts with maintenance.  Warm your horse up good and make sure you can lift their shoulders and maintain complete control. Make sure your horse is soft and quiet before you run the first steer.  When you do run that first steer, set them up for a complete win. Let them be good and correct at the beginning and make your good runs in the middle or the end.  I like to think about it in quarters. The first quarter should be helping your horse to be good. The middle two can be for you to make your runs on and practice completing the run. Then the last quarter needs to be for them again. The more finished the horse the better they are going to be about not needing a ton of runs for them but they still need some.

Second Part of Problem

I see some heelers get in a spot where they cant see the steer till the 4th hop and when they do, their horses front end, quarters and drops into the ground. The heeler is then forced to pick the steer off and try to find a dally before it disappears. This is the other way I see people roping around their horse rather then with them. This also causes us to lean out in order to find the steer and only compounds the problem.

What I recommend is being much more deliberate with where you place your horse through the corner.  Especially in the practice pen, make them stay on the inside of the the steer to where you can always see the feet.  Then if they still want to drop their front end, make them follow for several jumps till their shoulders pick back up. It might feel weird at first but trust me, if you take the time, you can dramatically change your game by roping with your horse rather then against them.


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